What We Have and How It Got Here
A Labor Day salute from our own Bangor Police Department, whose singularly droll, canny, oh-so-human Facebook page has won its own improbable fame. Despite the bitter times facing community-police relations, the official voice of Bangor's police, members of the Maine Association of Police, is one Sgt. Tim Cotton, a former radio newsman and current public information officer who maintains a communal, good-natured tone that often reflects Howard Zinn's mandate to "join together to defend our humanity." Above all, the page is "about people," says Cotton. "Keep your hands to yourself, leave other people's things alone and be kind to one another," he ends each post. "We will be here."
Cotton's posts range from goofy photos of visitors with the department's Duck of Justice to recounting how he slept outside at camp the night before, noting "it was a choice" and asking readers to "Give us a hand for those who do not have that choice" by donating to Hats For the Homeless, to chiding Pokemon fans looking to use station facilities with "No you cannot turn yourself in on a warrant in exchange for recharging your phone" to blasting the jerk who stole an elderly woman's new patio chairs and table - "You should join Miscreants Anonymous" - and thanking the good guy who buys her a new set: "These are our people."
On the first day of school, he warns police will be stationed at public schools, "future leaders of America" will be crossing the street, and parents will be late even if they leave early because "the dog will have some kind of vomitous fit on the rug...Dogs wait for this day. They have meetings" and slow empty buses "will frustrate you because your kids did not take the bus and they are in the back of your car. Withhold angry outbursts in front of the kids." There are also many tales of inept drug dealers, from Mr. Heinz Taco Bell caught speeding at 2 a.m. - "We know nothing ever good happens after 1:59" - who when asked for his registration hands over ketchup and hot sauce packets, to the guy who asks cops to help him push his dead truck off the road, forgetting his front seat is piled with what he thinks is his newly-bought cocaine but turns out to be maybe powered sugar.
For Labor Day, he asks readers, "Ponder for a moment, if you will, how all those who have come and gone before you were able to exist and thrive with far less than you currently have." He cites "the carpenter who did not have the ability to request that the shingles were placed on the roof by the lift truck, the masons that built chimneys by carrying the bricks to the rooftop without the aid of mechanical devices...the excavation that was done by hand, the sewer systems that were built by straight manual labor, the cops who walked the beat and the firefighters that manually pumped water on to burning homes and buildings...The infrastructure of America was built by the strong backs of both citizens and immigrants. Laborers." And he suggests, rather than whining at the grill because a neighbor hogged the potato salad, we "take a long hard look at what we have and how it got here." He ends, "Keep your hands to yourself, leave other people's things alone and be kind to one another. We will be here."